BY Yo Yo Ma-SkynardHouse and R&B DJAt a faculty meeting at the Eastman School of Music last week, a number of issues relating to school improvement were discussed. The Eastman faculty is committed to creating an environment where student musicians can thrive musically, academically and professionally. The consensus was that this meeting was the most productive in years.First on the agenda was to discuss ways in which the school could double attendance for the lower rotation ensembles – Wind Orchestra and Eastman School Symphony Orchestra – from the typical three audience members to close to six. There was talk of charging an admission fee for these ensembles to spur interest in the public.”By charging for only the lower rotation ensembles, we can stimulate the public to see what’s worth the money, and then the students will have to rise up to the occasion,” Professor of Conducting and Ensembles Neil Varon said. “For example, the second violins will have to look at their parts before intermission. It’s a win-win situation.”Pressing matters with the Arts Leadership Program were also brought up. The goal of ALP is to teach musicians how to be entrepreneurs. A new ALP internship at McDonald’s is expected for the 2005-06 school year.”Since most of our alumni have held prestigious employment at McDonald’s, we feel that this internship will especially prepare our musicians for the future,” Director of Eastman James Undercofler said.Representatives from the theory department proposed overhauling the theory program in a way that no music school has yet to explore. They proposed a new rule to eliminate the resolving of tendency tones, such as the chordal seventh. “It’s so clich. Our theory faculty has already implemented the rule in our own research, so our students should be held to the same standards,” Assistant Professor of Theory William Marvin said.In lieu of the 10th anniversary of Music for All, a requirement for chamber music students to make classical music accessible for the general public, Director of Admissions and former Director of Career Services Adrian Daly proposed “Music for None,” where students would not be allowed to play music outside of Eastman until they graduate.”Classical music is not meant for everyone – it is an elitist art form that most people are not worthy of,” Daly said. “Eastman students are too good to get ruined by the general attitude about music in this country. We want our students to leave Eastman with an optimistic view of music, and then not come back to complain that we gave them false hopes about the intellectual abilities of civilians.”This comment got an overwhelmingly positive response in the room, with the exception of the vocal professors who argued that vocalists and civilians were plenty alike, and reprimanded the rest of the faculty for not embracing the similarities as forward progress for Eastman.The last issue confronted in the meeting were complaints about the aural skills program ruining perfect pitch in students. The program, which was influenced by Kenny G’s abilities on the saxophone, has used vocal students as TAs ever since. The faculty believes that this is where the problem lies.”What we need is to take this program in a completely new direction for the future,” vocal professor Rita Shane said. “We need to hire a truly magnificent vocal coach to help our students vocally express pitch.”She went on to suggest influential teachers in the vocal world at this time, such as Paula Abdul. “She has successful trained even the most tone deaf singers to belt out intervals on ‘American Idol.’ I think Eastman needs to step up to the plate to provide that kind of training to our students,” Shane said. At that point, she went into a half-hour rant about how vocalists are musicians, too, while the faculty continued discussing the cockroach problem in the annex. All in all, the meeting went smoothly and the faculty seemed intent on making major improvements.Ma-Skynard can be reached atymaskynard@playmycello.org.



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